I wanted more flexibility with my 4-year-old. He had been acting with increasing rigidity throughout our day. So, I started to think of all the areas in which he had a lot of emotionally charged and demanding behavior, where setting limits might actually help him. Bingo! His feelings about nursing first thing in the morning were very strong. He had to have it first thing, no ifs ands or buts about it.
It was time to wean him. I knew this would release stored-up feelings for him and me. I was excited to take on this emotional project and I was in a good place to set a loving, gentle, clear-minded limit with him.
I began to talk about my plan with my son. I told him that in 4 more days we were going to stop nursing in the morning. I would remind him every morning about what was to come. He would protest and say, “No!”
I would listen and say, “I know it’s hard to stop things that you love, it’ll be hard for me too. I’m sad about not nursing anymore, it’s hard.” I even remember crying a bit about it myself, right there with him. I loved our nursing in the morning and all that we shared during that special time.
The night before our first morning without nursing, I gently set the limit, “ Now, tomorrow morning we won’t be nursing.” He said okay, and to sleep he went. The next morning he woke up and reached for my breast first thing. I softly put my hand on his and said, “We’re not going to nurse in the morning anymore.”
He was not happy, and began to cry, scream, and beg to nurse. I Staylistened with him and reassured him that I was there, he was safe, and I loved him. This went on for about 15 or 20 minutes, and then he was ready to move on with our day. “Phew,” I thought, “that went well!” I was able to be warm and loving, and I felt very clear and good about my choice to set limits on that nursing. I knew it was time.
Every evening before we fell asleep I would remind my son about not nursing in the morning, and each morning he would cry for a few minutes and be done. The crying in the morning only lasted a couple of days. I was amazed! I thought it would have been much more difficult, but I guess that one big cry was enough to release important feelings and allow him to move on.
I noticed a big difference in my son afterward! He was more relaxed, flexible and happy as he went through his days. “This,” I thought, “is amazing! Give me more of this!” I was encouraged to think of other issues my son had an emotional charge about, where some gentle limits would also be helpful.
– Christine Ashe, Certified Instructor
You can learn more about Parenting by Connection in the Listening to Children booklet set.